Exercise Plans: How to Start, Tips & More | Cornerstones4Care®

Keep Moving


You’re off to a good start. But the key is to make your activity plan a regular part of your diabetes management. So stay with it, and stay active.

How to start and stick to your activity plan

Start right away

The first step is to do a little more activity than you’re doing right now. Be creative. Start with simple choices that bring more physical activity into your day, like walking more—when going to and from work, getting lunch, shopping, or seeing neighbors and family.

Start small

A simple way to start might be with a 5-minute stroll. Join the neighborhood watch or another community organization to get out and meet people. Slowly, you can build up to 10-minute walks, then to 15-minute walks, and so on.

Bring a friend along

Ask a friend or family member to join you. Making plans with another person helps you stick to your plan.

Be careful with your feet

Diabetes can affect your feet, so be sure to take very good care of them. Check your feet every day, especially after being active. And tell your health care provider if something doesn’t seem right.

Learn more about foot health and physical activity with this helpful fact sheet

Fact sheet also available in Spanish

Watch out for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Check your blood sugar before and after physical activity. Have a carbohydrate (or carb) snack handy in case you need it.

If you think your blood sugar is low, eat 15 grams of carbs right away, such as:

  • 4 ounces (1⁄2 cup) of regular fruit juice (like orange or apple juice) or milk
  • 4 ounces (1⁄2 cup) of regular soda pop (not diet)
  • 4 glucose tablets
  • Candies that you can chew quickly (for example, 7 gummies)

Make activity plans that fit you

You may not have been active in a while. But you can start now! Here are some suggestions to help:

  • Start with walking and build up to other activities. You might want to listen to music or the radio while you walk
  • There’s no need to spend money on a health club. You can visit local parks, trails, a school gymnasium, or a community center
  • It won’t be immediate, but you may soon see changes like better sleep, more energy, and blood sugar levels that are closer to your goals. In time, you may start to lose weight and see other physical changes to your body
  • Diabetes experts recommend starting slowly and working your way up to at least 30 minutes a day of activity, 5 days a week. Your diabetes care team can help you create a plan that meets your needs and fits your schedule
  • It’s never too late to begin to be active. A low-impact activity is one way to avoid aches, pains, and injuries if you’re unsure of what you can handle right now
  • Focus on the results you’re looking for instead of the hurdles. Once you’re used to your activity plan, it will seem less difficult to stay on it
  • Always talk to your health care provider when you start or change any activity

Have you signed up for the Diabetes Health Coach?

Being Active

Watch a video on how to fit activity into your daily routine.